Biff’s not back: NRL warns players still face bans for punching

Posted April 20th, 2019 by admin and filed in 南京夜网
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The NRL is adamant it has not “left the door open” for a proliferation of punching to return to the game after two players were fined rather than suspended for offences in round one under a shake-up to the judiciary system.
Nanjing Night Net

Melbourne’s Will Chambers and Canberra’s Joseph Leilua were fined $1100 and $1350 respectively after pleading guilty to grade one contrary conduct charges from the weekend.

They were the first players to be hit in the hip pocket since the off-season judiciary revamp, which has been introduced as a way of players avoiding suspension for minor offences.

Former Test forward Anthony Watmough described Chambers’ attack from behind on Canterbury’s Sam Kasiano as an attempted “dog shot” but while the Storm centre was sent to the sin bin at Belmore Sportsground he escaped a ban. Leilua’s punch on North Queensland’s Gavin Cooper, meanwhile, was missed altogether by referees in Townsville, which irritated the veteran Cowboys forward.

Bulldogs front-rower Aiden Tolman said on Monday that the changes to the penalty system potentially left the game vulnerable to more punching if players knew they would only be fined and not suspended.

“The fine (for minor offences) I suppose was brought around after Issac Luke missed the (2014) grand final,” Tolman said.

“For players like that to miss a grand final for a grade one is a pretty big thing. They banned the punching for a reason and I suppose they’ll probably bring in another rule sooner or later to stop the punching coming back. They might get a grade two or they might not be able to pay the fine. I’m not too sure what they’ll do around that.

“I think it’s to stop guys who didn’t deserve the week in a big game to be able to pay the fine and get out. But I suppose it does leave the door open for those sort of things as well.”

The NRL insisted on Monday that its crackdown on punching – enforced since 2013 in a season that was marked by a notorious State of Origin altercation between Paul Gallen and Nate Myles – remained in place, and if anything had been strengthened.

“The game’s stance is clear – punching will not be tolerated. This has not changed and will not change,” an NRL spokesman said.

“In fact, the penalty for forcefully punching another player has increased, rather than decreased.

“If a player forcefully strikes a player, he can be charged with striking, which carries a 200-point base penalty. The base penalty for striking was 125 points in 2016.

“The sin bin also remains a strong deterrent for any team or player. Losing a player for 10 minutes can have an enormous impact on a team.”

Canterbury winger Brett Morris said the Chambers punch from behind was a bad look for the game.

“It was banned for a reason,” Morris said.

“It’s not a good sight (for) the game. While there are a lot of old-school blokes that don’t mind it, it’s not something you want the kids to see and try and repeat. It’s a shame it happened. It’s happened now and we can get over it.”

Meanwhile, Manly are staring at a further blow after a round-one defeat to Parramatta on Sunday, with forwards Martin Taupau and Addin Fonua-Blake facing sanctions for shoulder charges.

Both Taupau, who was the Sea Eagles’ enforcer-in-chief against the Eels, and Fonua-Blake stand to be rubbed out for three matches if they challenge the charges and lose and will be suspended for two games with early guilty pleas. Manly have until midday on Tuesday to make a decision. Compounding Manly’s early-season problems is a suspected fractured eye socket suffered by another prop, Lloyd Perrett.

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